Mike Neal … d-lineman-turned-linebacker had his moments
Like tight end Andrew Quarless who suffered injuries early in his career, Mike Neal missed much of his first two seasons in the league.
That may have had an effect on the fact that in his free agent season, the Packers had no interest in bringing him back to Green Bay. He remains a free agent to this day.
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But his days in Green Bay weren’t all bad. He overcame the injuries and when he was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker in 2013 he played in all 16 games. He replicated his ability to stay on the field in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, for the most part. But in the final year of his contract with the Packers in 2015 the need to step up his play didn’t come to fruition.
The Packers were hoping that Neal’s comfort level in playing without his hand in the dirt would have improved more in 2015 as he joined Nick Perry in helping to back up Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews on the outside.
It was Perry that the Packers brought back to the team for 2016, not Neal
In 2014, Neal started 10 games for Green Bay, had one interception, one forced fumble and the most sacks of his career with five. He also had 24 tackles, and 18 assists. Over the course of his first three seasons, Neal has had 63 solo tackles and 29 assists.
Neal started 15 games last year and played in every game, recording four sacks, 24 tackles and 12 assists.
In the six years he spent in Green Bay, he collected 100 tackles, 46 assists, and 19 sacks. When Neal was good, he was very good, but too often he would disappear from the radar.
Neal adapted from being a defensive lineman to playing as a linebacker and showed signs that he could bring the potential most expected when he was drafted out of Purdue in 2010.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Packers to consider paying him to continue in the Green and Gold.
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